10 April 2015

Snipers Praised and Condemned

I recently heard Focus on the Family's Jim Daly interviewing Taysir Abu Saada the author of 'Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of how a PLO Sniper Found a New Life'.

Daly's comments were interesting. They talked about Saada's conversion to Christianity and how God kept working on him, wore him down and finally he gave in and accepted Christ. A moved Daly reflected that no one can be 'beaten' into the Kingdom.

He also talked about how God is a giver and lover of life and that the urge to kill others is something that comes right from the pit.

Indeed we can agree with Daly that the foot soldiers of the PLO are inspired by Satan.

We can certainly give a hearty 'amen' to such sentiments and can also rejoice in Saada's conversion. The American-influenced theology he expressed during the interview was a little troubling but we can leave that aside.

I was more troubled by what I can only call the astounding incoherence of Daly's views, an incoherence that is not just mental but moral and has manifested itself in this rather striking but hypocritical interview.

No one is 'beaten' into the Kingdom? That's an interesting statement coming from the head of a 'ministry' that has spent over thirty years trying to shape the laws of the nation, to coerce people to accept Christian morality and have it enforced by men with badges and guns.

This of course simply displays not only a certain contempt for the principles of the country they profess to love but also a real ignorance of Biblical doctrine. Nothing in the New Testament suggests this is the course of action given to the Christian Church and in fact there is a great deal of evidence to suggest otherwise. I'll admit that their actions are (in part) conducted in ignorance, but considering they are a multi-million dollar operation that purports to uphold Biblical values, and speak for Christians in America, they are indeed accountable.

Even though this effort has lessened with the obscured and deceptive firing of James Dobson, the 'ministry' still labours to this end and promotes the same causes. Until his death Charles Colson still appeared on the programme promoting the same Dominionism that has forged the agenda of the Christian Right. There has been no ideological shift, merely a shift in emphasis.

I wonder would Daly be willing to give an interview to an American sniper who converted to Christianity and renounced the US military's culture of death and/or the aims and agenda of the United States? I think not. I don't think such a conversion would be viewed as legitimate.

Promoting the US Empire is pretty standard fare on Focus on the Family. And when Clint Eastwood made a sniper movie about Chris Kyle, the Focus reviewers refer to him as an 'unalloyed hero'. In his case, invading another country and killing its women and children was a heroic act. For those who embrace Dominionism and its language of Vocation, I guess we could say Kyle was just worshipping the Lord.

While Daly and those like him would find it offensive to equate US soldiers with members of the PLO, I will only say this... As a Christian I reject war and those who wage them but on a human level, at least the Palestinians were and are fighting for the recovery of lands cruelly taken from them and their violence is rooted in the occupation of their lands and the brutalization of their people.

Are they violent killers? Yes. They've learned it well from the American backed Israelis. Death begets death. I wonder if Chris Kyle was thinking of Matthew 26.52 as he lay dying?

The US hasn't fought a truly defensive war since the early 19th century. Apart from (perhaps) World War II all US military action has been essentially expansionist, rooted in Nationalistic aims or Imperial interests. Many will scoff at that statement, but that is due to either deeply ingesting the propaganda of the Empire or a moral failure to reflect on the true nature of America's policy and doctrine.

Empires are built on theft and murder and it is in that light that we as Christians ought to view its foot soldiers and those that approve of their deeds. To make them 'heroes' is morally offensive. To make them into religious martyrs and saviours is blasphemy. The form of Christianity that legitimizes these actions, casts them in terms of Christian doctrine and venerates them is heretical.